JUPITER, Fla. — On Tuesday, Major League Baseball and the players’ union failed to reach a new contract by the league’s self-imposed deadline.
After nine straight days of face-to-face negotiations, MLB presented what it considered its best and final offer of the talks. The union rejected it and just minutes after the deadline expired, commissioner Rob Manfred held a press conference at which he announced that the first two regular season series were canceled, a decision which, according to him, would be “disastrous” a month before.
“We worked hard to avoid a result that was bad for our fans, bad for our players and bad for our clubs,” Manfred said at Roger Dean Stadium, spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins. “I want to assure our fans that our failure to reach an agreement was not due to a lack of effort by either party.”
The games are the first missed due to a work stoppage since the 1994-95 players’ strike, which resulted in the loss of more than 900 games, including the 1994 World Series. It remains the longest work stoppage in baseball history, followed by this lockout.
There are many questions about what happens next – and more will arise – but some answers are known.
How did we come here?
A collective bargaining agreement is the working document between management (the owners of the 30 MLB clubs, in this case) and workers (the players), and it governs the league. The parties have been discussing a new five-year collective agreement since last spring.
The last two agreements were seen as having further tipped the balance of power and the economy in favor of the landlords. And the players – who have been frustrated by wages that have not kept pace with club income, the way younger players are in greater demand but relatively underpaid and the lack of competition between some teams – have sought a series of changes. The owners, however, believe players have a fair system.
After the owners locked out the players on Dec. 2, talks didn’t begin between the sides until Jan. 13, and they were sporadic until a frantic surge the final week before the deadline. cancellation of matches.
After a marathon 4.5-hour trading session on Monday that continued Tuesday morning, MLB said it believes there has been enough progress to extend the deadline to 5 p.m. Tuesday. The union, however, expressed caution over muted optimism due to the large gaps that remained.
Tensions mounted on Tuesday when MLB bristled at the union’s counter proposal in the afternoon; accused the union of changing its tone, which angered some players; and said he would present his so-called best and last offer before the deadline. The players rejected this proposal, then Manfred canceled the matches.
What are the problems ?
There is a lot of. Yes, there have been compromises on issues such as the playoffs and a mechanism to help curb the manipulation of top rookie players’ service time.
But among the biggest areas of disagreement as of Tuesday: league minimum wages, the amount of a new bonus pool created to reward young players not yet eligible for salary arbitration, and luxury taxation. To learn more about these issues, try here, here, and here.
How many matches will be missed?
A baseball series is between two and four games. For defending champion Atlanta, for example, games from March 31 to April 5 were dropped from the schedule by Manfred’s announcement. It was originally a season-opening four-game series against the Marlins in Miami and a two-game series against the Mets in New York. With each team losing at least five games, Manfred’s announcement canceled over 75 games.
MLB Off-Season Updates
(Spring training games, which were originally scheduled to start Feb. 26, won’t start until March 12, according to Atlanta’s website as of Wednesday.)
As the labor dispute continues, more regular season games are in jeopardy. MLB had chosen its deadline because it believed a minimum of four weeks of spring training — two weeks less than usual — was needed to avoid an increase in injuries. The union, however, believes three weeks of spring training is doable.
How much is each game worth to players and owners?
Player salaries are public, but owner earnings are largely not. The Braves, however, recently offered a rare glimpse into the numbers of a successful team thanks to their status as the only team controlled by a publicly traded company in the United States. The team reported a profit of $104 million in 2021and his home game revenue was $6 million.
Outside of opening day, April isn’t a particularly good month for attendance, especially for teams in colder, wetter climates. Schools are also still in session.
However, it is unclear how much TV revenue could be lost as each club’s local offerings are different and not public. Some of these transactions do not require the team to credit the network until approximately 20 games are missed. The big money in MLB’s national television deals comes from the playoffs. (The expanded 14-team playoffs that club owners were seeking were valued at $100 million a year. Players wanted a 12-team format, which MLB incorporated into its proposal package.)
As for the players: Based on base salaries, which totaled just over $3.8 billion last season, they would combine to lose $20.5 million for each day erased from the regular season schedule of 186 days, according to calculations by The Associated Press.
Max Scherzer, the star pitcher who signed an offseason deal with the Mets that would earn him a record $43.3 million a year, stands to lose about $233,000 for every day lost during the regular season. (Player paychecks start at regular season time, and the 162-game regular season spans 186 days.)
The majority of players, however, earn the league’s minimum wage, which was $570,500 in 2021. According to the union, 60% of players who played in a major league game last year were paid at roughly the league’s minimum rate. (MLB’s latest proposal called for the minimum wage to rise to $700,000 in 2022, while players demanded $725,000 and bigger annual raises.)
And if an agreement on credit for lost service time from canceled games is not reached, some players could see their eligibility for free agents delayed after 15 days of the 2022 season are missed.
How about tickets?
Teams have already started announcing their ticketing policies related to cancellations. The Mets, for example, said tickets for the opening day originally scheduled would be honored for the first game of the season – whenever it happened.
Will these games be invented?
This is a point of contention between MLB and the union. And given that the sides have been arguing bitterly for months over the schedule and salaries tied to the 2020 season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, this case will likely continue to linger.
The union believes there is precedent for changing the regular season schedule. In 1990, the 32 day lockout cut spring training in half, but the full regular season game schedule was played, starting a week later than usual.
Asked to explain the league’s stance of canceling games rather than rescheduling them, Manfred cited the logistical difficulties of interleague play throughout the season. As for negotiating pay and missed service time for those games, he said, “Our position is that games that players don’t play won’t get paid.”
The union’s position is different. Bruce Meyer, the union’s chief negotiator, said players will demand full pay and time on duty for those missed games, or have the missed games rescheduled. “If the league unilaterally decided to cancel games, then to get an agreement players would have to be compensated for those games,” he said.
When will the talks resume?
On Thursday, chief negotiators from MLB (Dan Halem) and the players’ union (Meyer) will meet in person.
Tony Clark, union leader, previously said that if MLB wanted to continue talking at Roger Dean Stadium on Tuesday, the union would have stayed.
“We made the last proposal, so you come to your own conclusion as to who should leave next,” Manfred said on Tuesday.
What will happen to club employees when matches are cancelled?
“MLB and our clubs hope this will be resolved soon,” a league spokesperson said Wednesday. “But we are not aware of any current plans by the club to make staff redundant.” Everything could change if many more games are missed.
Who can bear a loss of games any longer?
The owners – a group of billionaires – have more resources and access to more lines of credit than the players.
Manfred said on Tuesday that the past few years have been “very challenging from a revenue perspective for the industry given the pandemic.” In October 2020, Manfred noted The 30 MLB clubs had racked up $8.3 billion in debt with their various lenders. According to MLB, the number jumped to $9 billion last year.
Players, however, have amassed what Scherzer, a top union official, once called a “pretty good war chest” to help weather a work stoppage. According to federal filings by the union, it has grown from total assets of nearly $90 million at the end of 2017 to $192 million three years later.
Medical benefits for players restart on April 1 each year, Clark said. The union said it would use its reserves to cover players’ medical care.
What will the players do in the meantime?
Because players have not been allowed in team facilities since the lockdown began, they have been training, throwing and hitting on their own. Many players go to private facilities off-season anyway. They are expected to continue doing so until the start of spring training.
Since many players live in Arizona during the off-season, the union has set up a staffed stadium and facility in Mesa, Arizona for players who need a place to practice during this off-season. period.
Some players have updated their LinkedIn profilesand Bryce Harper, the defending National League winner of the Most Valuable Player award, has volunteered his services to another league.